Creating memories in the kitchen...One meal at a time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chocolate Thumbprints

Although I could happily live on chocolate chip cookies for the rest of my entire life, I also like trying new things, like these chocolate thumbprints.

Not only are they cute as can be, these little two bite beauties are pretty tasty too. Buttery, little shortbread rounds with a  creamy chocolate filling, I bet you'll have a hard time eating just one!

Simple enough for everyday, yet pretty enough for a baby shower or holiday plate, these little thumbprint cookies are going in my "keep" file. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the jam and double chocolate versions could be making an appearance really soon.

Chocolate Thumbprints
Martha Stewart

*Makes about 2 dozen*

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup


1.Heat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together 1 stick butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in flour, beginning on low speed and increasing to medium high.

2.Roll dough by teaspoonfuls into balls, and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and press thumb into tops of cookies to make indentations. Return to oven, and bake until light brown on the edges, 7 to 9 minutes more. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

3.Combine chocolate, 4 tablespoons butter, and corn syrup in a small heat-proof bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water; stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly. When cookies are cool, fill the thumbprints with the chocolate mixture.


Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Salsa Chicken

I recently participated in a recipe exchange and was given this recipe.  It is so delicious and easy!  I was surprised at how good such simple ingredients can taste.

Salsa Chicken


4 chicken breasts
1 Jar of salsa (Picante, old el paso whatever you like; choose the heat you like I use mild)
Can of corn or thawed frozen corn
garlic powder
onion powder
1 cup of shredded jack cheese

Sear the chicken in olive oil seasoned with the salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder place seared chicken in a casserole dish cover with the salsa and corn; bake covered at 350 for 40 minutes. Top with monterey jack cheese a few minutes before it's done.

Serve over white rice (if it's too spicy you can add a tbls of brown sugar while it's cooking).

In the slow cooker just put the chicken in the crock pot after you sear it with the other ingredients and cook it a low for three or four hours or at high for 1 or two hours.

Posted By: Julia
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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Giada's Marinara Sauce

Picture from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

I've long been a huge fan of Giada De Laurentiis. Her recipes are classic, delicious and usually pretty healthy too. Her marinara sauce is no exception. It turns out smooth, delicious, and thanks to Melanie's fabulous tip, of adding a couple tablespoons of butter, almost silky tasting. I love the adaptability of this recipe as well. The options are endless. Cook up some ground beef or turkey sausage, grilled chicken, or sauteed squash and zucchini for toppings.  Or eat as is for a healthy, vegetarian meal.  It's  delicious in lasagna, manicotti, or as a dip. My husband and I both agreed this is THE marinara sauce we'll be using from now on. My kids love it because there's no CHUNKS and I love it because they're eating their veggies without even knowing it!

Giada's Marinara Sauce
Giada De Laurentiis & Mel's Kitchen Cafe

*Makes about 7 cups of sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 (28-ounce each) cans crushed tomatoes

1/2 tablespoon dried basil

1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

2 dried bay leaves

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter (optional but delicious)

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat until hot and rippling. Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring very frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until all the vegetables are slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano and bay leaves and simmer, covered, on low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to make sure the sauce isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot, until slightly thickened and the vegetables are completely tender. Stir in the brown sugar. Taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper as needed. Add the butter and stir to combine if you want to round out the flavors and add a dimension of silkiness.

Remove the bay leaves. In a blender or food processor, blend the sauce (in several batches, if necessary) until it is smooth. The sauce can be frozen once it is cooled completely in freezer-safe ziploc bags for up to 6 months.

Posted by: Sallie
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

I know I just posted a recipe for Cheesecake Bars awhile ago, but these were too good not to post. A perfect fall dessert, these bars have a little bit of everything. A delicious, buttery shortbread like crust, a creamy layer of cheesecake, cinnamon and sugar apples, a yummy struesel topping and as if that wasn't enough a drizzle of caramel. Leave it to Paula Deen. I just love her!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping

Paula Deen & My Kitchen Cafe

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

Cream Cheese Layer:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel Topping:

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1 cup caramel sauce (homemade recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, two tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine all the streusel topping ingredients and mix until crumbly. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two forks until mixture is crumbly but combined. Press evenly into a 9X13-inch baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

While the crust is baking, in a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Then add eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla. Mix well. Pour over the warm crust.

Spoon the apple mixture evenly over the cheesecake layer. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the apples. Bake for 30 minutes until the filling is set.

Cool the bars to room temperature. Drizzle with the caramel topping (or plate individual slices and drizzle with topping one by one).

*I cheated and used Mrs. Richardson's Caramel Sauce.*
Caramel Sauce:

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

½ cups half-and-half or cream

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix butter, brown sugar, half-and-half or cream, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until thickened slightly. Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat and pour the sauce into a jar. Refrigerate until cold. If the caramel sauce has cooled in the fridge long enough to harden, warm slightly before drizzling on bars.

Posted by: Sallie
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Delicious Sugar Cookies


My family loves sugar cookies. We have a favorite recipe found here. My husband thinks it is a crime to even look at another recipe. Me, I'm the traitor. What can I say? Sometimes change is good. In this case, very good.

This recipe for sugar cookies is absolutely divine! Like I think I was actually moaning while I took a bite of one. (Good thing I was alone!) I loved the hint of lemon and the sweet buttery flavor. Even though they are cooked at a high temperature they keep their shape fabulously and are super soft, melt in your mouth, delicious!

Delicious Sugar Cookies
Good Things Catered and My Kitchen Cafe
Makes 2-3 dozen sugar cookies (about 2-3 inch size)

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened to cool room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)

5 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla extract, almond extract and lemon zest; mix. Add two cups flour, baking powder and salt. Mix. Add remaining flour and mix just until flour is incorporated and the dough is smooth and soft.

The dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or it can be rolled out right away. Dust a counter with powdered sugar or flour and roll the dough to desired thickness (I prefer my cookies on the thick side so I roll my dough out to about 1/4-inch, maybe even slightly thicker than that). Cut the dough into shapes. Place the cookies on a lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. The cookies won’t appear browned on top (or on bottom) when they are done baking so don’t let them over bake! I find 7 1/2 minutes is about perfect but if they are even lightly browned on bottom,  decrease the time by 30 seconds. This way they literally melt in my mouth.

Cool the cookies completely on a wire rack before frosting. The baked cookies (unfrosted) can be stored in a tupperware or ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a month. You can also  freeze 1/2 of the sugar cookie dough when you don’t have time or don’t want to roll it out and cut shapes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then stick it in a freezer-safe ziploc bag and freeze it for up to a month. Take it out the night before you want to roll it out and store it in the refrigerator to thaw (for about 12-15 hours). About 30 minutes before you want to use it,  let it sit on the counter to soften a bit and then  roll it out and cut out the cookies.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

*Note: the key to success here is using really soft cream cheese and beating it with the powdered sugar until no lumps remain.

*Makes about 4 cups of frosting

1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix until very smooth and light and no lumps remain. In a separate bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks. Add the whipped cream to the cream cheese mixture. Mix until well combined and smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Posted by: Sallie

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